Off-Broadway Review: SEVEN SINS (Company XIV in Brooklyn)

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by Tony Frankel on April 29, 2022

in Theater-New York


Mae West, the sage and sybarite from Brooklyn, used to say, “Let joy be unrefined,” a point of view that also suits Austin McCormick, artistic director and choreographer of Company XIV. His latest extravaganza, the delightfully ribald Seven Sins, slathers us in the boisterous risk-taking revelry he’s known for: bare skin, slinky sexy sultry ballet, baroque flourishes, burlesque, cirque, singing, and a pulchritude of gorgeous soubrettes and boy-belles.

Well, seven always was my lucky number.

Company XIV’s Seven Sins is a ribald delight. It all takes place at the intimate Théâtre XIV club in the trendy hipster graffiti chic neighborhood of Graffiti Alley in Bushwick, an area rich in restaurants, clubs, food trucks, and very cool cats of all stripes. And it’s an easy L train trip from Manhattan to Brooklyn. It really is like going back in time as you enter a bar through an innocuous entrance; the entire place has that smoky, steampunk feel with decorative touches everywhere, from the bar to the loo, where everybody waits in the same line. Decorated with ornate armchairs, upholstered settees, and matching round tables with candles, there is a velvet quality, and feels both cozy and luxurious as it throbs like a seductive, titillating fantasy.

My first experience with Company XIV was last year’s Nutcracker Rouge, a bawdy reimagining of the Nutcracker ballet which dazzled with sumptuous gender-bending performers and a festive atmosphere. I’m thrilled to report that this new spectacle also dazzles. Using the context of Adam & Eve (ya know, that sinewy serpent, that apple, and the first of many sins), the three-act, 120-minute production is presented a bit straightforward in its structure — one number follows another — yet it is oh-so splendid as it’s executed by a winning cast, many of whom bartend and seat you. It’s all beautiful and mysterious, sinister and seductive.

Creating a steamy vibe right from the start, Seven Sins (which is actually reopening after the Covid-19 shutdown) conjures the aspects of human sensuality, from traditionally romantic to aggressively transgressive, with stops in between for addictive, playful, regretful, and more. Taking a cue from the disparate acts of vaudeville, McCormick includes aerial acts, choreographed routines, and suggestive sex — a Saturnalian bacchanal with music that mimics grand opera, pop, and standards. (I want the CD.) We are treated to some remarkable displays of flexibility, athleticism, gymnastics and physicality. The awesome sound design by Julian Evans ensured we heard every word while performers move about the entire space. Scantily dressed in Zane Pihlström’s fanciful glittering outfits, and moving between Brian Tovar’s sensuous lights and sultry shadows, the beautiful faces and svelte bodies embolden the masquerade.

The feel is secretive, nostalgic, and progressive at the same time (did someone say Weimar era?). And the packed house was awash with a global community of appreciative, partying patrons. I’m rather sure I heard Japanese, German, Farsi, and Russian — all celebrating with dreamy cocktails, champagne and absinthe. What if the United Nations partied like this?

Cast members include Vernon Brooks, Erin Dillon, Hannah Gill, Danielle J.S. Gordon, Nicholas Katen, Pretty Lamé, Lilin, Troy Lingelbach, Brandon Looney, Joni McDonald, Nolan, Amazonian Rockstar, Scott Schneider, Hannah Straney, Chanel Stone, Syrena and Marcos Antonio Vasquez.

photos by Alexander Sargent, Deneka Peniston and Mark Shelby Perry

Seven Sins
Company XIV
383 Troutman Street in Bushwick, Brooklyn
Thurs – Sun at 8 (doors open at 7)
ends on closes August 28, 2022
ages 21 and up only
$85 to $195 singles
Champagne Couches for two $395 to $595 include a half bottle of champagne brut and treats
for tickets, visit

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